Archive for May, 2011

Beskuit – South African rusks…

Frank loves South African food, a trait for which I am very grateful. Or shall I say: for which he is very grateful. I’m not sure what I would do if he didn’t like it! When we first started dating I bought him some biltong, which is similar to jerky, and he loved it. (I also gave some to a British colleague who said “what is this disgusting stuff?” to which I replied “if any other South Africans see you pulling that face or hear what you just said you’ll be getting a beating. Just so you know.”)

One of the most traditional South African foods is the humble rusk. Historically, rusks evolved, along with biltong, during the latter country’s early pioneering days as a way to preserve bread in the dry climate. It was also extensively used during times of war or when travelling long distances.

In the UK and Australia they are fed to babies, but our rusks are crunchy and delicious and designed to be dunked into a piping-hot cup of tea or coffee. (But not for too long, you don’t want mush on the bottom of your mug) They aren’t too sweet, and everyone who tried them loves them. Especially Frank! When I made the first batch of these babies Frank was sneaking them out the oven and munching them before they were dried.

I’m lucky enough to work with a South African guy whose mother has passed down the family rusk recipe to his beautiful wife. She, in turn, passed it to me as my family doesn’t have a rusk recipe that I know of. And now I pass it on to you! If you have any South African friends, making these will bring back their memories of home. And if you are South African, these are much better than Ouma rusks!

Beskuit – recipe from Estelle Meyer

1 kg self raising flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 cups of bran
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sultanas
500gms butter, cut into cubes
500ml cultured buttermilk
3 eggs
2 cups sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan-forced.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub in the butter. (If you’re in a hurry, you can melt it first).

Mix together the eggs and the buttermilk and add to the dry mixture, mixing thoroughly with your hands.

Put mixture into a bread/loaf pan, and bake for an hour, until golden.

Cool in pan and reduce oven temperature to 100C, then cut mix in slices like bread. Cut those slices into thin strips and place on baking paper directly on the oven racks and leave to dry for 3 hours.

Can be stored for up to two weeks in an airtight container, but I doubt they’ll last that long…

Drunken Orange & Ginger Jam

I initially got into cooking when I moved to the UK. Because of this, I can cook a vast repertoire of heart-warming stodgy winter food, but am pretty useless at light, summer food. So, despite me being a massive “cold frog” and hating the chill, I find myself greatly anticipating winter!

All the good things seem to happen in winter. The rugby, rugby league and AFL starts; my birthday gets closer; and I get to make thick stews and puddings to keep us warm through the chilly months. I also get to count down the days until Papa C’s lemon tree goes crazy and produces more lemons than we can pick!

I have noticed lately that the citrus fruit is becoming plentiful, but I’m not the biggest fan of marmalade as it is too bitter for my liking. So I’ve made a slightly sweeter orange jam, and jazzed it up with a bit of sherry for the cold. You can leave the sherry out, it tastes good without it. This one would also be good on fresh scones!
Drunken orange jam – adapted from the BBC Good Food website
1 kg oranges, well scrubbed and halved
1 unwaxed lemon
1.5 kg granulated sugar
30g stem ginger
2 l water
1/3 cup sherry

the oranges having a bath...

Grate the rind and squeeze the juice of the oranges and lemon, and place in a large saucepan with 2 l water and ginger.

Bring the liquid to the boil, then simmer for about 1 hr, or until the peel is soft and translucent and the liquid has reduced by one third. Turn off the heat and lift the ginger out.
While you wait, get your jars ready. Wash 8 x 450g/1lb jars (or the equivalent volume larger or smaller jars) in hot, soapy water, then leave in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm. Alternatively, if you’ve got a dishwasher you can run the jars and lids though a hot cycle, then let them dry. Put a saucer in the freezer at this point, too.
Add sugar and pectin to the pot, along with the sherry. Stir every so often over a very gentle heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Don’t boil before all the sugar has melted.

Slowly bring the pan to the boil. After 10 minutes boiling, spoon a small blob of marmalade onto the cold saucer. Leave for a minute, and then push the marmalade with your finger. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. If not, boil for 10 minutes more then try again. If yours seems to be taking a while don’t worry, it can take anything from 10 minutes to 45 minutes for marmalade to reach setting point, depending on your oranges. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface in the meantime.

Once you’ve reached setting point, ladle the marmalade into the warm jars and seal. The marmalade will keep for up to 1 year in a cool, dark place, and for up to a month in the fridge once opened.


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All recipes are on Petitchef